Don’t Leave Money on the Table: 7 Negotiation Tips to Help You Increase Your Salary

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For most of us, salary negotiations are uncomfortable and intimidating. We fear losing an opportunity, appearing greedy, or over-assessing our professional value. Thankfully, negotiations don’t need to be so difficult. Integrate these seven simple tips during your next salary negotiation and reap the benefits!

Tip 1: Perfect Your Pitch

Don’t try to improvise your salary negotiation. Have a plan in place and practise it! Before you get to the interview, do your research, know your bottom line, and make a case for your request based on your strengths and achievements. Consider multiple negotiation scenarios and develop an action plan for each.

Tip 2: Determine Your Value

Research the average salary for professionals with similar skills and experience to yourself. If your salary expectation is too high (or too low) you may risk elimination. Use sites like Indeed, Payscale and Glassdoor to research industry salary standards and to pinpoint the target company’s (or its competitor’s) salary ranges. Also, be sure to consider your qualifications and employment history when evaluating your worth. When you reach the negotiation stage, you should have a clearly defined salary range and a bottom line in mind.

Tip 3: Focus on What You Can Offer, Not on What You Need

Potential employers don’t care about your mortgage payments or the costs associated with maintaining your current lifestyle – they care about how much value you can bring to the organization. Justify your salary request by providing evidence of your professional achievements and by emphasizing the specific benefits that you can offer to the employer. One of the greatest mistakes that people make while negotiating their salary is failing to support their request with evidence of their value. “Show them the money” and watch your bank balance blossom.

Tip 4: Ask for Extras

More money is great, but so is more free time or more education. If an employer is offering a salary that is workable, but not ideal (and won’t budge) consider asking for additional vacation days, flex-time, tuition reimbursement, or other benefits that may sweeten the deal.

Tip 5:  Avoid Discussing Money Too Early

If possible, leave compensation out of the conversation until you are the last candidate standing. Many employers will inquire about your salary expectations early in the hiring process. If your expectation falls outside of their target range, you may get screened out before having a real opportunity to wow them. Do your best to delay money discussions until the last phase of the interview. If asked about compensation early in the interview process, politely advise the employer that you prefer to have a solid understanding of exactly what the position entails before discussing compensation.

Tip 6: Allow the Employer to Present the First Offer

Allowing the interviewer to advance their offer first helps you to avoid presenting a high figure that may lose you the job or a low figure that could leave money on the table. Additionally, many employers do not lead with their best offer so the employer’s proposal can provide you with a starting point for negotiations. Just how much bargaining room you have is tough to say, so be sure to consider your estimated value and remember that the sky is not the limit – avoid countering with an unrealistic figure that can’t be backed by market research and your professional experience.

 Tip 7: Know When Not to Negotiate

If an employer delivers a generous offer right off the bat, consider accepting (with a smile). You don’t have to negotiate simply for the sake of negotiating. Alternatively, if a salary figure or range was defined in a job advertisement, or if the employer assures you that they are presenting their best offer, there really may not be any room for movement – if you do decide to attempt negotiation, proceed wisely.

The Bottom Line: While salary negotiations may push us outside of our comfort zone, research shows that salary negotiators tend to make significantly more money over the span of their careers and are also perceived as stronger candidates than those who do not negotiate. Perfect your pitch and give it a try!

The author, Terra Blunt, is an Employment Specialist with The Career Foundation.

6 Important Considerations for Second Career Strategy Applications

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Second Career Strategy is an Employment Ontario (EO) skills enhancement program in which EO Service Providers, such as The Career Foundation, assist clients in organizing their applications to The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (formerly MTCU) should the clients be both eligible and suitable. The objective of the Second Career program is to provide laid-off, unemployed individuals with skills training to help them find employment in occupations with demonstrated labour market prospects in Ontario that are vocational in nature.

Unfortunately, the name of this program is often taken out of context. Applicants need to understand that this program is based on a need, not a want. Furthermore, this particular program has more than its fair share of urban myths surrounding it. Applicants need to be able to demonstrate – to both the EO Service Provider and to the Ministry – that without training they are unable to re-enter the labour market. Often, applicants state that they simply want to do something different in their careers; and unfortunately this program is not designed for that purpose. Clients need to demonstrate that their current skill set is now obsolete. It’s important to note that the application process is extensive and time-consuming, and that the Second Career program is intended to be one option among many EO services and programs.

If Second Career is the right option for you, here are a few very important guidelines to remember as you put your application together. Hopefully a few urban myths will be dispelled along the way.

1.) Employment Ontario Service Providers (like The Career Foundation) will assist in providing interested clients all relevant information pertaining to eligibility, suitability, and mandatory application requirements. This includes a myriad of application forms, some of which are used for all applicants and some of which are used in specific circumstances (such as a need for child care or transportation) during the skills training.

2.) It is highly recommended that clients understand why an honest and full disclosure of an applicant’s financial situation and job search are required. An active job search is part of the application process. The Ministry has the right to scrutinize each and any part of the application upon receiving it. Applications can be rejected at the Ministry’s discretion should they feel that any part of it is incorrect.

3.) The Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Development (MAESD) created this program and designed its parameters. EO Service Providers are NOT able to change the rules and requirements, and they do not make the final decision on acceptance into the program.

4.) The client will need to complete the application themselves, and be able to demonstrate that they in fact completed the entire application without interference from a third party. There are training institutions that provide interested applicants with completed applications, including falsified job logs, school research, informational interviews, and labour market research. This is fraud and it is against the law.

The downside for a prospective applicant is that it is the applicant’s signature that goes on the fraudulent application. The Career Foundation can ardently recognize falsified documents, but those documents can still find their way to the Ministry. And yes, they too know how to spot falsified documents. If a client’s application is to be approved, the client will be expected to meet with the Ministry to demonstrate that their application is accurate, authentic, and was completed independently. Honesty truly is the best policy.

5.) Choose a school that is reputable and a career that speaks to your heart. When your counsellor indicates that Second Career is an option, research what public and private colleges have to offer. Speak to real employers and ask them which training institutions they respect the most. Ask them which schools and which qualifications they are more likely to consider when a resumé comes across their desk or screen.

6.) While there are strict parameters for limiting what you can study through Second Career, you also need to imagine how employers view these qualifications. DO NOT BELIEVE EVERYTHING A SCHOOL TELLS YOU! REMEMBER THAT THEY ARE THERE TO MAKE MONEY. THIS IS YOUR FUTURE – TAKE YOUR RESEARCH SERIOUSLY!

If you think you may be eligible for skills enhancement and training through the Second Career Strategy, please connect with your Employment Specialist and/or visit your nearest The Career Foundation hub for more information and an assessment.

Lastly, if ineligible for Second Career Strategy or uninterested in a vocational position, the good news is that OSAP (the Ontario Student Assistance Program) has dramatically changed its own parameters in 2017. There is now increased incentive for lower income families. OSAP offers two kinds of funding for post-secondary education: (1) Student Loans you need to repay and (2) Student Grants, which are financial supports you don’t have to pay back. Please connect with OSAP directly for more information.

To quote author, educator, and Chariots of Fire producer David Puttnam, “There’s always a miasma of misinformation emerging from the higher education sector as to which are the ‘best’ courses to take. My advice would always be to ignore the perceived wisdom and look for the most reliable evidence on the ground.

Jason Douglas Smith is a Training Application Coordinator with The Career Foundation, and has successfully directed clients in not only developing personalized job search strategy plans, but in circumnavigating the rigorous demands of applications for retraining for those in need of skills enhancement. When not doing this, he can often be found reading, writing and barbecuing in his native Burlington.   

Churn! Churn! Churn! (To Everything There Is a Season): Navigating Today’s “Job Churn” Pandemic

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Maybe it’s just me, but nostalgia’s only great for Comic Books, Baseball Gloves, Shortbread Cookie Recipes, and Toronto Maple Leaf fans! … Not Labour Market Expectations!

According to a Toronto Star report from Saturday, October 22, “Canadians should get used to so-called ‘job churn’ — short-term employment and a number of career changes in a person’s life.” And this isn’t just an editorial trying to be sensational; it’s come directly from Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

I find it fascinating that people seem so perplexed by this. If Canadians aren’t used to it, it’s because Canada is a young country with an extraordinarily contemporary history, holding on to a collective expectation that is far too nostalgic for the economic highlights of the past 70 years. The good news is, if history teaches us anything, we can handle this change and we already have, many times.

If we used historical events as a pop culture narrative to economic change, every 10 years it would seem, a new economic reality has been set. The 1920s were a huge boom of financial extravagance for the western hemisphere, though wealth was not as proportionately spread as it could have been had there been the same social consciousness that came upon society in the 1960s. The 1930s saw the economic collapse of the Great Depression, and that was only partly stopped when the 1940s brought WWII, the most destructive conflict in history that conveniently propped up and propelled the economies of Canada and the USA. True economic prosperity bloomed in the post-war 1950s and in the socially conscious movements of the 1960s with wealth greater and more evenly spread than it had ever been.

The ‘50s and ‘60s era is perhaps the economic dreamscape most longed for as growth was massive and jobs were plentiful – at least in Canada and the USA. By some estimates going as far back as the Roman Empire, baby boomers were the wealthiest demographic in the history of this planet. Oil and infrastructure woes slowed the 1970s, before Michael J. Fox and Ronald Regan slapped a number of silly movies and economic Band-Aid solutions down. This led to the hairspray-teased optimism of the 1980s, which crash-landed into the plaid mosh pit cynicism of the 1990s. This era was one of less boom and more ‘balance;’ some growth, some slowdown. From this point onward, little has changed, with economic growth in the western hemisphere and other G20 countries moving between some growth to some slowdown and back again.

However, if popular opinion is any gauge, the 40-year period inclusive of the 1950s and 1990s is the time most job seekers want to return to the most; and for good reason. However, as a society we may be conveniently forgetting that all of these times required adaptation from those in the labour markets of those differing periods. The changes in the labour market equate in 3 ways:

  • How we adapt to the professions that are disappearing and the professions that are emerging
  • How we balance our standard of living in times that are neither boom nor bust
  • How contemporary society deals with change in the first place

On that last point regarding change: The labour market (as a vein to history as the main artery) has proven itself (as history has) to be all about change.

As a collective group of individuals in today’s workforce, we present as being more than ‘reserved’ when it comes to change. In fact, I believe we are downright scared. This is perhaps why Finance Minister Bill Morneau feels the need to ‘warn’ us of “job churn” – though he shouldn’t really need to; we just don’t read enough history anymore.

Of the past 70 years, only 20 of them were boom years, and before that it never really existed. Sure, it would be great to have those years back, but is that realistic? Perhaps the eternal optimist could spend more time being clever than nostalgic. The current “job churn” is easy to deal with when you know what decade you’re living in.

Here’s a few tips to bear in mind as you navigate the current labour market:

  • Understand that if you refuse to be flexible with both your job search and the positions you wish to attain, you will flounder. Gone are the days (for the time being, and perhaps for a long time coming) when you can be what you want to be unless you make that happen for yourself. Finance Minister Bill Morneau is playing this right. He knows that politicians on all sides of the house will not succeed in returning us to the boom and ease of the 1960s. They will need us to be less dependent on politicians to save the day, and more dependent on ourselves. We will need to reinvent ourselves at every step. And if you want to make it big, you’ll need to be ahead of this curve by light years.
  • Job churn will affect our standard of living and how we spend. There will be as much opportunity to make money if you look for it, but there won’t be as much economic surplus and stability. Simple changes like having one TV instead of three are where the successful, stable workers will make the right moves. Start simply – dinner out twice a month instead of five. We can no longer expect to own and spend as the baby boomers did. We will live well, but more likely as frugal as the war generation did, assuming you want savings for your retirement.
  • Populist leaders the world over are already tapping into fear to buy votes as all of their promises seem to harken back to past eras. From Europe to the USA, the key word is halcyon, an adjective denoting a period of time in the past that was idyllically happy and peaceful. Unfortunately, few people seem to want to question this. I would argue that how we deal with change in the first place is at least as important as how we deal with what exactly those changes are.
  • And the best advice: DON’T PANIC!

What seems to be missing is an understanding that the changes occurring in the Boom Times did scare people in those times as well. If you look to your career with the expectation that change is inevitable and replete with “short-term employment and a number of career changes, then you’ve already won the battle against this fear. Ask yourself this question: How can I be more adaptable? In this you may be able to find the solution you need to survive contemporary history and this little trend called “job churn.”

To quote the late American writer and futurist, Alvin Toffler, “The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”

Well said.

Jason Douglas Smith is a Training Application Coordinator with The Career Foundation, and has successfully directed clients in not only developing personalized job search strategy plans, but in circumnavigating the rigorous demands of applications for retraining for those in need of skills enhancement. When not doing this, he can often be found reading, writing and barbecuing in his native Burlington.   

3 Reasons I’ve Loved Working in the Skilled Trades

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If you have a mental image when you see the word “arborist”, it’s probably not a mental image of me. For those who don’t know, an arborist is a skilled tradesperson who specializes in cultivating and managing trees and woody plants – sort of like a specialized lumberjack.  I’m 5’7”, I’m smallish by most standards, and I couldn’t grow a beard to save my life, so archetypal lumberjack I am not.  I have ended up with a career in the skilled trades, however, and would recommend anyone who likes working with their hands to give the skilled trades a shot.

The major impetus for me happened in fall 2012, when I spotted an ad for The Career Foundation’s Arborist Pre-Apprenticeship program, to which I applied for, was accepted and successfully completed. When the General Carpenter Pre-Apprenticeship program at The Career Foundation started in early 2016, I encouraged my brother, Will, to apply, and neither of us have looked back.

What has working in the trades done for me?

1) CONFIDENCE. Learning to safely use, maintain, and repair a chainsaw changed me, and
not just because it’s one of the coolest power tools out there.  Before I got into the trades, I’d probably held a drill once or twice, hammered a few nails, and would have looked for someone else to do anything more involved than putting together Ikea furniture.  The first few dozen times I used a chainsaw, the uncertainty of whether I’d be able to get the thing to start put a knot in my stomach.

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Hangin’ out: A typical day in the life.

Fast forward a few years, and I’ve been in more situations than I can count where I had the most training and experience with tools on a job site, and was best prepared to tackle a job safely, or troubleshoot a problem effectively.  Beyond the obvious practical applications of having gained this level of skill, it also made me realize that, just because something is an enormous challenge at first, doesn’t mean I can’t overcome and eventually master it.  That feeling is infinitely transferable to other tools, to sports, to hobbies, and to challenges at work and in life.

2) EMPOWERMENT. With a couple major exceptions, most of the skilled trades have traditionally been male dominated. (Kudos to chefs and hairdressers!)  Today, the world is changing.  Every day I know that by showing up for work and being a professional in my field, I am setting an example: for my bosses and coworkers, for other women, for other skilled trades companies, for clients, for the public.

I really believe that tapping a broader pool of talent is beneficial: for individuals faced with a wider range of options, for industry, and for society.  Working in a male-dominated field as a woman certainly has its challenges, but I do so with the knowledge that I’m helping to pave the way for non-traditional demographics, including women, people of colour, and LGBT+ people, to take a shot at this really rewarding career.

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3) RESULTS. Working in the trades, there is never any question at the end of the day as to what you’ve accomplished.  Your achievement is right in front of you, whether it be a tree pruned, a section framed, or a pipe laid.  As a tradesperson, you have made a measurable and tangible contribution to society by the end of every day at work.  In many cases, it will be a contribution that you’ll be able to physically show your children and grandchildren.

Kate Raycraft currently works as Pre-Apprenticeship Project Assistant with the General Carpentry Pre-Apprenticeship program at The Career Foundation’s Hamilton office. For anyone interested in our General Carpentry Pre-Apprenticeship program, please visit our website at: https://careerfoundation.com/index.php/component/content/article/23-tcf-modules/157-general-carpenter-pre-apprenticeship-program-for-youth

3 Things GAME OF THRONES Can Teach You About Surviving and Thriving In Canada’s Modern Labour Market

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The Fortress of Klis, situated near Split, Croatia. The medieval fortress has regularly been used as a location for filming the HBO series, The Game of Thrones. Photo credit: Pixaby

If you’ve ever watched HBO’s Game of Thrones then you will understand. If you’ve never seen it, you know people who have – and that’s most likely everyone else. If you watch one episode, you’ll find yourself clamouring to watch the rest. For good reason, this fantasy-based drama of power struggles, war, love, loyalty, and family accord resonate with historians for its depiction of war as being painfully deliberate and without a conscience; meaning that even the most beloved character is never guaranteed to stay in their position or even return at all. Despite being in the fantasy genre, Game of Thrones has a number of allegories relevant to the modern Canadian labour market. With good reason both those who are employed and those who a seeking employment may want to heed the warnings this fantasy offers.

(1) The Only Person Who Will Protect You Is You

In today’s labour market you can depend on others for support, but not for progress. Canada’s Employment Insurance is there and both Employment Ontario and Service Canada have invested huge amounts of capital to ensure that we live in a highly productive and educated workforce. However, it’s not the 1950s and 1960s, opportunities and safeguards are plentiful, but offers are not. The onus is entirely on you to develop and maintain your career.

In Game of Thrones, Jon Snow, Petyr Baelish, and Tyrion Lannister are three characters that in some ways couldn’t be more different from each other. They are born into privilege yes- but in this series that means nothing. Jon is loved by his family, but not recognized by his them. Petyr is a smug and morally repugnant ‘businessmen’. And Tyrion is the heart and soul and brain of a dysfunctional family that is violent and power mad. What these three have in common is their willingness to look after themselves and seize opportunity before others even know that it is there. The parallels with career growth and the attribute towards one’s willingness to look after one’s self can be encapsulated in a term called Employment Retention.

Keeping one’s position and having that position develop is the result of any number of factors, but most likely a combination; awareness of these factors is Employment Retention. From growth in a particular sector to understanding how differing sectors of the labour market are changing and evolving to simply understanding how to behave in particular professional settings are all key. The real trick is doing this in a manner that is proactive enough to keep your head afloat. While a beloved character of the first season, Lord Eddard Stark (played by Sean Bean), stayed true to his beliefs but was unable to adapt his role to changing times, and as such, could neither keep his position nor his head afloat.

(2) Your Current or Highest-Paid Position Won’t Last Forever

For the immediate future, “Job Churn” is here to stay. According to a Toronto Star report from Saturday October 22, Canadians should get used to so-called “job churn” — short-term employment and a number of career changes in a person’s life. And this isn’t just an editorial trying to be sensational; it’s come directly from Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

Meaning that as productive working members of society we need to become accustom to short-term employment and a number of career changes; and not always in an order of ascending prominence either.

If Game of Thrones has a lesson for us here it’s that power and position is fleeting, and those who survive are those most willing to reinvent themselves. Tyrion and Jamie Lannister are two characters that demonstrate this without a doubt. These siblings thrived as they worked under their sister’s husband who was the king. When the king passed, his eldest teenage son, Joffrey, took control and then began running the entire kingdom like a sulky sadistic brat. As such, both Jamie and Tyrion were forced to endure unwarranted criticism and solve bureaucratic issues with a head of state that was largely too immature to fix the problems he himself was mostly causing. Without giving too many plot details away (a huge no-no in the world of Game of Thrones), both characters did reinvent themselves each time misfortune robbed them of their titles. In all of the situations, neither started at the top of their game, but in their reinvention, quickly worked to understand and take control of the changes around them.

It is change, particularly of a longstanding industry sector, that is hard on all. The closing of Stelco and its application for bankruptcy in 2007 and the 1990 economic meltdown of Dofasco both in Hamilton, Ontario hurt that city badly. The immergence of online file sharing nearly crippled the music industry when it bloomed in the late 1990s. However, like Jamie and Tyrion Lannister, both the City of Hamilton and the music industry have since re-emerged and reinvented themselves. Part of this was the courage to do things differently and part of it was the inevitably of change. There was simply no other choice.

(3) Winter Is Coming – We Have No Choice But To Adapt

Winter is coming, both literally and metaphorically, and this is not an option. If winter were a Game of Thrones allegory for the Canadian Labour Market, then winter is change, and as fearful as the characters in Games of Thrones are of winter, it would seem the majority of us in the labour market today, are as fearful of the changes to it.

In Game of Thrones part of the terrifying appeal of winter is the unknown of the ‘long dark’. The irony would be that those who embrace change and the unknown are in fact the most successful in their careers. If we look to “job churn” — short-term employment and a number of career changes in a person’s life, as the expectation for the immediate future, then we need to govern our career goals and planning accordingly- and not spend any time lamenting the past AND NOT being rigidly dogmatic in any nostalgic way. The economy could turn back to the powerhouse heydays of the 1950s and 1960s or even further back to the complete stagnation and reversal of the 1930s. The constant is change, and with that comes ever more the chance to grow and develop, so long as you are willing to embrace that change and roll with it in a proactive manner.

“You know nothing, Jon Snow”, a line told to Jon Snow by various characters in various settings. It would seem that well written stories are not without a sense of humour and a good sense of humour would not be complete without a strong understanding of irony. Jon Snow, the character most able to deal with change and lead others in ways that had not been tried before, was accused of not knowing anything. This was probably true for the most part. He was actually stabbed in the back, and more than once. However, his leadership and his career spoke NOT to his ability to know the future, but how well he chose to adapt to it.

Written By Jason D. Smith

(Who has thrived in various labour markets despite not watching beyond Games of Thrones Season 5)